Politics Halts US$11M Trial
Civil Law Court Judge Yussif D. Kaba on Monday halted hearing into the case involving the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Oil Company of Liberia, Mr. Robert Sirleaf and two local newspapers, as well as an official of the Congress for Democratic Change or CDC, Jefferson Koijee.
Public sentiments and politics are reported to have compelled Judge Kaba to halt hearing into the ‘action of damages law suit’ against defendants Koijee and the two newspapers by Chairman Sirleaf.
The NOCAL Board Chair filed a law suit in early March of this year, demanding US$8,000,000.00 from the Independent Newspaper; US$2,000,000.00 from the Analyst Newspaper and US$1,000,000.00 from the head of auxiliaries of the CDC defendant Jefferson Koijee for action of damages against him.
Protesters held placards on Monday morning with politically charged inscriptions, as well as demanding press freedom at the call of the case: Robert Sirleaf Versus Jefferson Koijee and Analyst Newspaper before the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.
Judge Kaba immediately halted proceedings and instructed court officers to order the protesters to leave the court’s entrance before commencing hearing into the matter.
“Let them go into the streets -this is not a political ground. This matter is hereby suspended until they can leave the court with their placards,” ordered Judged kaba.
Cllr. Syrenius Cephus, representing the defendants, succeeded in pleading with the protesters to clear the entrance of the Civil Law Court for the commencement of the case, which they did.
But when the case was recalled yesterday, hearing did not still focus on the matter, as state lawyers representing the NOCAL Board Chair questioned Cllr. Cephus’ accreditation apparently for renewal of membership with the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) to duly exercise legal representation in a trial, something many viewed as infusing politics into the matter owing to the fact that Cllr. Cephus has made several legal representations since this year without such argument by prosecution lawyers.
In his complaint before the Civil Law Court, Robert Sirleaf said the Independent Newspaper accused him of hijacking five oil blocks, and further questioned whether it was he, Sirleaf or Liberians that own the oil in its front page headline on Monday, March 5, 2012 publication.
Sirleaf also alleged that defendant Jefferson Koijee accused him, through a publication in the Analyst Newspaper that he begged his mother, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for the NOCAL Board Chair position in anticipation of a 20% estimated at 34 billion that NOCAL has the power to apportion to Liberian free of charge.
The complainant further argued that defendant Koijee accused him of acquiring ill-gotten wealth that would amount to billions of United States dollars in years to come, while the people of West Point, BukonGedeh, Doe Community, Bella Fassima and Karmplay will be forced to come to sell plastic bags for survival.
However, matters were suspended yesterday, and trial is expected to continue at the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice at a later date.